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Lopinavir use while Breastfeeding

Drugs containing Lopinavir: Kaletra, AccessPak for HIV PEP Expanded with Kaletra

Lopinavir Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding

Summary of Use during Lactation

In the United States and other developed countries, HIV-infected mothers should generally not breastfeed their infants. Lopinavir has been well studied during breastfeeding. In countries in which no acceptable, feasible, sustainable and safe replacement feeding is available, World Health Organization guidelines recommend that all women with an HIV infection who are pregnant or breastfeeding should be maintained on antiretroviral therapy for at least the duration of risk for mother-to-child transmission. Mothers should exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first 6 months of life; breastfeeding with complementary feeding should continue through at least 12 months of life up to 24 months of life.[1] The first choice regimen for nursing mothers is tenofovir, efavirenz and either lamivudine or emtricitabine. If these drugs are unavailable, alternative regimens include: 1) zidovudine, lamivudine and efavirenz; 2) zidovudine, lamivudine and nevirapine; or 3) tenofovir, nevirapine and either lamivudine or emtricitabine. Exclusively breastfed infants should also receive 6 weeks of prophylaxis with nevirapine.[2][3]

Drug Levels

Maternal Levels. One study measured lopinavir in breastmilk samples from nursing mothers who had been randomized to receive the drug as part of a clinical trial to evaluate maternal to child transmission of HIV infection. The dosages, dosage regimens and time of breastmilk sample collection times were not reported. Lopinavir was not detected in any of 60 breastmilk samples.[4]

Nine mothers who were receiving lopinavir 400 mg plus ritonavir 100 mg twice daily as part of a combination antiretroviral regimen provided a total of 23 milk samples at birth, 1 month, 3 months and/or 6 months postpartum. Milk samples were collected at a median of 4.5 hours (range 3.5 to 6 hours) after the previous dose. The median breastmilk lopinavir concentration was 1834 mcg/L (range 557 to 3950 mcg/L).[5]

Fifteen women had been taking lopinavir 400 mg twice daily for 53 to 182 days as part of a drug combination that included ritonavir, zidovudine, and lamivudine. Breastmilk samples were collected at just before a dose at a median of 1 month postpartum. Whole breastmilk levels contained a median of 0.06 mg/L of lopinavir, which was a median of 0.7% of maternal blood levels.[6]

Thirty women were studied at 6, 12 or 24 weeks postpartum (10 at each time). Each mother was taking zidovudine 300 mg, lamivudine 150 mg, lopinavir 400 mg, and ritonavir 100 mg twice daily by mouth starting at delivery. On the study day, at a median of 14.9 hours after the previous evening's dose, maternal plasma and breastmilk samples were obtained prior to the morning dose and 2, 4 and 6 hours after the dose. One hundred seventeen of the 121 breastmilk samples contained detectable quantities (10 mcg/L or greater) of lopinavir, with a median breastmilk concentration of 1.43 mg/L over the 6 hours.[7]

Nine HIV-positive women about to undergo cesarean section received 3 doses of lopinavir 200 mg, ritonavir 150 mg, zidovudine 300 mg, lamivudine 50 mg at 3 hour intervals before the procedure. Breastmilk samples were collected at a mean of 25 hours postpartum. In the 8 women where it was quantified, the average milk concentration of lopinavir was 4263 mcg/L (range 1143 to 5573 mcg/L).[8]

Infant Levels. Breastfed infants of 9 mothers who were receiving lopinavir 400 mg plus ritonavir 100 mg twice daily as part of a combination antiretroviral regimen had a total of 6 blood samples analyzed at 1 month, 3 months and/or 6 months postpartum. Samples were collected at a median of 4.5 hours (range 3.5 to 6 hours) after the previous maternal dose and a median of 30 minutes (range 20 to 60 minutes) after the previous nursing. The infants' median lopinavir plasma concentrations was 105 mcg/L (range 12 to 518 mcg/L), which was a median of 8% (range 0 to 16%) of the maternal serum concentration.[5]

Five infants were breastfed either partially or exclusively by their mothers who had been taking lopinavir 400 mg twice daily for 53 to 182 days as part of a drug combination that included ritonavir, zidovudine, and lamivudine. Infant blood was collected at a median of 1 month postpartum at 11 to 16 hours after the last dose and a median of 1 hour (range 6 minutes to 35 hours) after the last breastfeeding. Two of five infants had measurable lopinavir plasma levels of <1 mg/L.[6]

Lopinavir was measured in 117 breastfed (90% exclusive) infants whose mothers were taking lopinavir plus ritonavir for HIV infection during pregnancy and postpartum. At 8 weeks postpartum, only 2% had detectable lopinavir in their plasma at a mean concentration of 0.17 mg/L. At 12 weeks postpartum, none of the infants had detectable lopinavir in their plasma, and 96% of infants had detectable lopinavir in their hair samples at a mean concentration of 5.1 ng/mg of hair (range 0.13 to 15.8 ng/mg). The authors interpreted the results to mean that infants receive negligible exposure to lopinavir during breastfeeding.[9]

Thirty nursing mothers were studied at 6, 12 or 24 weeks postpartum (10 at each time). Each mother was taking lopinavir 400 mg twice daily by mouth starting at delivery. Infant plasma samples were obtained before their mother's first dose and at 2, 4 and 6 hours after the mother's dose. Infants were allowed to breastfeed ad libitum during the study period. Lopinavir was undetectable (<10 mcg/L) in all of the 115 infant plasma samples.[7]

Effects in Breastfed Infants

A study compared the rates of severe anemia in 3 groups of infants who received postpartum prophylaxis with zidovudine for prevention of maternal-to-child transmission of HIV infection. Through 6 months of age, breastfed infants whose mothers received HAART had a higher rate of severe anemia (7.4%) than breastfed infants whose mothers received only zidovudine (5.3%). Formula-fed infants had the lowest rate of severe anemia (2.5%). The anemia generally responded well to iron and multivitamin supplementation, and discontinuation of zidovudine.[10]

An unblinded study in Uganda compared the outcomes of breastfed infants and their HIV-positive mothers who were randomized to receive antiretrovial therapy that was based either on efavirenz 600 mg once daily or lopinavir 400 mg plus ritonavir 100 mg twice daily during breastfeeding. All mothers received lamivudine 150 mg, zidovudine 300 mg twice daily and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole once daily. All infants received prophylaxis with either zidovudine for 1 week or nevirapine for 6 weeks, plus trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole from 6 weeks of age to 6 weeks after weaning. Almost all of the infants were exclusively breastfed until 6 months of age and about 73% were partially breastfed until 12 months of age. There was no statistical difference in hospitalizations or adverse events including anemia, neutropenia or deaths among infants in the two groups.[11]

Effects on Lactation and Breastmilk

Gynecomastia has been reported among men receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy. Gynecomastia is unilateral initially, but progresses to bilateral in about half of cases. No alterations in serum prolactin were noted and spontaneous resolution usually occurred within one year, even with continuation of the regimen.[12][13][14] Some case reports and in vitro studies have suggested that protease inhibitors might cause hyperprolactinemia and galactorrhea in some male patients,[15][16] although this has been disputed.[17] The relevance of these findings to nursing mothers is not known. The prolactin level in a mother with established lactation may not affect her ability to breastfeed.


1. Anon. Guideline: Updates on HIV and infant feeding: The duration of breastfeeding, and support from health services to improve feeding practices among mothers living with HIV. Geneva: World Health Organization. 2016. PMID: 27583316

2. World Health Organization. HIV and infant feeding: update. 2007.

3. World Health Organization. Consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection. Geneva: World Health Organization. 2013.

4. Rezk NL, White N, Bridges AS et al. Studies on antiretroviral drug concentrations in breast milk: validation of a liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometric method for the determination of 7 anti-human immunodeficiency virus medications. Ther Drug Monit. 2008;30:611-9. PMID: 18758393

5. Palombi L, Pirillo MF, Andreotti M et al. Antiretroviral prophylaxis for breastfeeding transmission in Malawi: drug concentrations, virological efficacy and safety. Antivir Ther. 2012;17:1511-9. PMID: 22910456

6. Shapiro RL, Rossi S, Ogwu A et al. Therapeutic levels of lopinavir in late pregnancy and abacavir passage into breast milk, in the Mma Bana Study, Botswana. Antivir Ther. 2013;18:585-90. PMID: 23183881

7. Corbett AH, Kayira D, White NR et al. Antiretroviral pharmacokinetics in mothers and breastfeeding infants from 6 to 24 weeks post partum: results of the BAN Study. Antivir Ther.2014;19:587-95. PMID: 24464632

8. Ramirez-Ramirez A, Sanchez-Serrano E, Loaiza-Flores G et al. Simultaneous quantification of four antiretroviral drugs in breast milk samples from HIV-positive women by an ultra-high performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) method. PLoS One. 2018;13:e0191236. PMID: 29351333

9. Gandhi M, Mwesigwa J, Aweeka F et al. Hair and plasma data show that lopinavir, ritonavir, and efavirenz all transfer from mother to infant in utero, but only efavirenz transfers via breastfeeding. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2013;63:578-84. PMID: 24135775

10. Dryden-Peterson S, Shapiro RL, Hughes MD et al. Increased risk of severe infant anemia following exposure to maternal HAART, Botswana. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2011;56:428-36. PMID: 21266910

11. Cohan D, Natureeba P, Koss CA et al. Efficacy and safety of lopinavir/ritonavir versus efavirenz-based antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected pregnant Ugandan women. AIDS. 2015;29:183-91. PMID: 25426808

12. Garcia-Benayas T, Blanco F, Martin-Carbonero L et al. Gynecomastia in HIV-infected patients receiving antiretroviral therapy. AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2003;19:739-41. PMID: 14585204

13. Pantanowitz L, Evans D, Gross PD, Dezube BJ. HIV-related gynecomastia. Breast J. 2003;9:131-2. PMID: 12603389

14. Evans DL, Pantanowitz L, Dezube BJ, Aboulafia DM. Breast enlargement in 13 men who were seropositive for human immunodeficiency virus. Clin Infect Dis. 2002;35:1113-9. PMID: 12384846

15. Hutchinson J, Murphy M, Harries R, Skinner CJ. Galactorrhoea and hyperprolactinaemia associated with protease-inhibitors. Lancet. 2000;356:1003-4. PMID: 11041407

16. Orlando G, Brunetti L, Vacca M. Ritonavir and saquinavir directly stimulate anterior pituitary prolactin secretion, in vitro. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2002;15:65-8. PMID: 12593790

17. Montero A, Bottasso OA, Luraghi MR et al. Galactorrhoea, hyperprolactinaemia, and protease inhibitors. Lancet. 2001;357:473-4; author reply 475. PMID: 11273087

Lopinavir Identification

Substance Name


CAS Registry Number


Drug Class

Antiinfective Agents

Anti-HIV Agents

Antiviral Agents

Anti-Retroviral Agents

HIV Protease Inhibitors

Administrative Information

LactMed Record Number


Last Revision Date



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